Half Price Books Update- August/September

Read all the tentative agreements so far here

The workers and the Employer were able to come to some critical agreements in the last sessions, particularly around the grievance procedure. This means that the contract, when it is settled, will be enforceable up to and including arbitrating disputes. The grievance procedure is so important that it has been the primary topic of discussion since April. While it took a long time, the bargaining committee won a lot of necessary improvements from the Employer’s initial offer, including more time to investigate contract violations, the option to go to mediation over disputes, and better language around filing group grievances. The grievance procedure is the most important tool for defending the rights workers won in their election and in their contract, so we are all very happy to have acceptable language around that at last.

The committee also got agreements around health and safety language, conflict resolution, pay procedures, and no strike. Another big piece is the agreed-to language about meetings. Not only will workers now have an opportunity to raise issues at monthly meetings, there will be quarterly meetings where workers can bring issues directly to district-level management. There will also be quarterly meetings with shop stewards, Union representatives, and the Regional Manager in order to discuss issues at the workplace. Workers fought very hard to get this language, and these communication improvements will hopefully help address issues that led Half Price Books workers to organize.

The next big piece of the contract to address is seniority. In Union contracts, layoffs are usually decided by seniority, but the Employer feels that the process they used during the early days of the pandemic are sufficient. Workers strongly disagree, and feel there was no consistency in the layoff process. The Union committee has formally requested information around that, and at this point the Employer has refused to provide complete information, only a list of names and an example rubric used by managers. The only thing this has shown so far is that the company was, at best, flippant about the layoff procedure during the pandemic. The Employer must provide this information under the law, and the Union will see to it that we are bargaining with all the facts in front of us.

The language in a first contract takes a long time to settle, and we hope to soon move on to economics (pay and benefits). However, it is crucial that the language in this first contract be strong language to protect workers, because if we allow weak or harmful clauses in now, they will be difficult to fix in the future. Thank you to all Half Price Books members for your patience while we build a strong foundation for many contracts to come.

Remember, none of the contract language is final until it is voted on and accepted by the workers, but for now the tentative agreements cannot be changed by either side. 

Our next bargaining session is October 4, 5, and 6, and we have dates scheduled for November and December.